Why I Am Done Defending Herman Cain

Three accusers is a trend; four is a tipping point.

By SHARE

People have been asking me all week if conservatives will stick with Herman Cain, but I think he's got a bigger problem than the conservative vote. A lot more women than conservatives vote, and the women I've talked to are finished with him.

There's a new CBS poll which says that 38 percent of female Republican primary voters are "less likely to back him" now that more accusers have come forward. Among all registered voters, CBS reports that Cain has lost support among women since last month—from 28 percent in October to 15 percent now. My sense is that 15 percent of female registered voters remaining as Cain supporters may be a little high, because the poll was conducted before Cain's attorney started threatening any other potential accusers with the notion that they'd better "think twice" before coming forward.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 GOP hopefuls.]

This whole thing is a shame, because so many of us liked Herman Cain's ideas and business experience. I've been defending him for the last few weeks as he spoke out against the anonymous and vague charges. But they're not anonymous and vague anymore. There are faces, and names, and ugly stories to match. As Kathleen Parker put it, three accusers is a trend. Four is a tipping point.

Women who have worked in politics have seen his type before—casual with staff, jocular, kind of schmoozy. Fun at first, but then it becomes clear that they don't think the rules apply to them. After a while, there's an arrogance that sets in. Washington is full of bosses like that. I've worked for several.

[Jamie Stiehm: Joe Paterno, Herman Cain Are Not The Victims in Their Scandals]

Women don't like to talk about being sexually harassed because it's embarrassing. Life moves on and most of us would rather put bad incidents behind us. So for busy women—at least one of the accusers is a single mom with a teenage son—to come forward years later isn't easy. The fact that they're contemplating doing a joint press conference says to me they realize how high the stakes are, after they saw how Sharon Bialek's personal finances and work history were trashed. Safety in numbers.

These accusers who have come forward are about my age, and they seem very credible to me. They're not selling their stories to tabloids. They're not random women from all over the country, like some of former President Bill Clinton's accusers were. They all worked with Herman Cain specifically when he was at the Restaurant Association. They seem believable to me, and right now, he does not. I'm not defending him anymore.

  • Vote now: Who is your pick for the 2012 GOP nomination?
  • Ken Walsh's Washington: Questions Herman Cain Needs to Answer
  • See photos of 2012 GOP hopefuls on the campaign trail